Have you ever sensed God leading you to do something you didn't particularly want to do? Not that it was too hard or too scary or too demanding; you just didn't want to be bothered. For about fifteen years my neighbor Smitty had been alone after his wife died tragically in a car accident. Through those years I typically visited him two or three times a month. Although I was doing it, I always had a bit of resistance in my spirit because it was hard in a self-centered kind of way. It's hard to carve a piece of time out of your day to go and sit with somebody when there are other things you'd rather be doing. (Okay, let's keep it really personal here - there are other things I'd rather be doing.)
Four years ago a dear lady friend of his moved in with Smitty for companionship and to take care of him when there was a need for that. I thought that surely this man would no longer need me to visit "so often" now that he had Julie, but the reality was that I had an inner prompting to be visiting more often. Though I grumbled in my spirit sometimes, I made it a matter of obedience to do this. I would sometimes take food, but often would just go and sit with them about once a week. A couple months ago I sensed that inner urging pressing me to go more often. (Really, Lord? More than once a week?) Pathetic, I know. Here is this 86 year old man and 89 year old woman, hardly able to leave the house any longer, and I'm grumbling because God wants me to give them two hours a week instead of one hour a week. Over and over I have argued with myself and God before submitting with a gentle spirit and then walking down the street to visit Smitty and Julie. I knew it meant a lot to them, as they never neglected telling me how happy they were to see me and how much they loved me, but my perverse heart still would never settle into an easy rhythm with this divine assignment.
Last week Smitty died. Totally unexpectedly. I was over 600 miles away, up in New York, when he died. Even though I have been good friends with Smitty for over twenty years, I was unable to go to his funeral. It broke my heart, and it made me realize how much this man meant to me. I called Julie twice last week and talked with her on the phone from afar, wishing with everything in me that I could be here to sit with her and comfort her. She loved this man, and she took care of him in his home for the last years of his life, but she was not a family member and had no official place in the eyes of outsiders. Many probably considered her a mistress, though she was not that at all.
Yesterday I was finally able to go visit Julie. This sweet lady has a beauty that is radiant. I can only hope to be as lovely as she is both on the inside and the outside if I live to such an age. We talked of many things related to Smitty and her relationship with him. She told me things about him that I had never known. One of the things she told me was a new perspective on my role in Smitty's life. According to what Smitty had told Julie, during the fifteen years that he was widowed and alone, I was the only person other than his immediate family members who ever visited him. I was his only friend. In her words, "If he hadn't had you he wouldn't have had anybody."
Friends, this has pierced my heart like a dagger. I had no idea. If God had revealed to me that I was Smitty's only friend, it would have made it easier for me to prioritize him in my life. But God didn't choose for me to know that. Instead, He wanted me to simply follow His leading and go where He told me to go for reasons that He alone knew.
Now I have a heart devotion to Julie. Next week she will be moving back to her own house in Concord. It will not be convenient for me to visit her, but she will be a priority in my life until she goes to be with Jesus. And I will not complain.
Moral of this story: you may never know the importance of some small thing God is asking you to do. Just do it. If you can't do it with a good attitude, do it anyway and keep praying for help with your attitude.
I am the blind man hiking the Appalachian Trail.